"Ariadne?" Arthur called as he pulled her scarf and a black box that had a plaid ribbon wrapped around it out of his suitcase.
"I'm in the kitchen!" she said. "Take a seat on the couch! Make yourself at home!"
He did as she told him and sat down on her love seat. He put the box on the coffee table but held her scarf in his hands. He couldn't stop fumbling with it as he waited for her. "Coffee?" she asked as she poked her head around the entrance of the kitchen. "It's decaf."
"Sure," he said softly.
"A little, please."
She disappeared inside the kitchen. The smell of coffee was stronger now, and it made him want to curl up on her couch and fall asleep. He was so tired from today's events. With his past jumping in on him like that, he never felt so open. Not in a long time. He bent over, hinged his elbows, resting them on his knees, and rested his head against his palms. He could smell her scarf and it smelled faintly of a light cucumber mixed in with his freshly pressed clothes in his suitcase. He never wanted to hold a gun after what he had done to her in the dream. But it was the only way for her to wake up. To end her dream that turned into an utter nightmare. When he heard her approaching, he sat straight up and wedged her scarf between him and the arm of the couch.
"Thank you," he said as she handed him a red coffee mug. It was delightfully warm between his hands. He took a sip and scalded the back of his throat lightly. Ariadne curled up on the cushion next to him. She seemed so small on her own couch compared to him. Her hair looked fluffy with it's natural wave and how it curled at the ends. She had on a flannel shirt that was rolled up to her elbows and black pajama pants that were much too big on her. Her eyes matched with his and he felt embarrassed. His hair was a mess, and he wore a white t-shirt and navy blue and white flannel pants. Ariadne started giggling, her eyes the color of warm butterscotch. "What?"
"I don't know," she said with a sly grin. "I imagined you in silk pjs or something." She took a sip of her coffee while still wearing her adorable smile.
"Sometimes I think you and Eames think on similar wave lengths in the head."
"At least that means that I have a sense of humor." She looked up at him over her red and white polka-dotted mug. "Not that you don't."
He smirked at her and she gave a quiet giggle. It was funny how different her acted around her. "It's funny how you look so different." And she took the words right out of his head. Maybe it was how he dressed that made him act relaxed. "But I like it. You look..."
"Well yes," she laughed. "Sophisticated in sweat pants. I like it."
"What would happen if I had silk on? What would you think then?"
"Truthfully, that you're too pristine to be working in a dirty job like this."
They shared a laugh. There was no business to exchange. It was just the two of them curled up on her couch acting nonchalant about the whole situation. Her grin turned sad and she looked away from him, back to her coffee. Her voice came out soft and hesitant. "How did you get those scars?"
Arthur almost choked on his coffee. He clear his throat and sat straight up, his back suddenly back stiff. The mention of his scars made them burn under his shirt. Ariadne didn't flinch nor cringe under his gaze, but waited patiently. "I saw when I was passing the bathroom. I didn't mean to invade your privacy, but I happened to see them," she added. She shrugged and continued, "Scar stories are interesting, usually."
He couldn't help but show how exposed he felt. His cheeks started to burn up.
"You don't have to tell me," she said. "I just wanted to know, though. Because I feel like I know you, but I don't know you at all."
"Those are the only two I have," he muttered. Ariadne sat up and listened intently, like a child would when they would be read a bed time story. The one thing he knew about her was that she wasn't shy to say what was on her mind. He picked that up from their phone conversation. But she knew when to reserve herself, just like he met her at her school. Although, there are times when she tries to be discreet and it doesn't work out too well, but he thought it was cute. Just like now. She was trying to be discreet asking him about his scars without trying to unfold a web of conversations. "The one on my shoulder blade is from when I was a teenager. I wasn't exactly a saint when I was younger."
"Oooh, a dark side in pinstripes," she commented with a wink. Arthur laughed which made her smile wholly.
"We weren't stupid, me and my friends. We were rather intelligent-"
"We you the smartest out of them all?"
"I was, in fact. I pitched the brilliant idea and then they put it into play." He shifted in his seat like the scar was jabbing him in the back; that's how it got there. "But we ran into another group whole pulled random pranks like we did. We got into a brawl and one of them had a knife. I pushed my friend out of the way, and the guy knifed me in the back."
"Oh, sorry. I lived in London for a while and went to school there. Knifed means stabbed or cut. Every time I think of that fight, I think of that word. Only time I use it. My mom wasn't too happy about it, but she didn't say anything."
"W-what about the other one?" she asked quietly, like she was too afraid to even bring up that memory. And Arthur didn't like talking about it, since she saw the man who did it.
"Well," he said as he touched his shoulder with the scar on it, "I'll tell you the short version of it. I moved back to the states when I was 18. My dad was a high ranking officer in the Marines."
"Is that why you told me about that thing about soldiers and sharing their dreams, right?"
"Right...My dad wasn't exactly the best father in the world. He was strict and firm. I mean, our outings were sniper sessions in the woods. When he left to go overseas, it was my time to do mischeif. My mother didn't mind as long as if i didn't get into trouble or if I didn't die. But one day, he returned home for some peace time and something happened to him. He was a lot meaner. He hit my mother once and struck me when I tried to stop him. He found out one night of what I was up to, and we got into a physical fight. He literally took the shirt off my back, pinned me down and took the poker for the fireplace. " He looked at Ariadne, who looked like she had just seen a dead person, hopefully not Mal. He wondered if she was still haunted by Mal? "I did everything to not let him hit my face. He burned me on my shoulder as I fought to get him off. But...that man you saw in my dream was him. He threatened me in real life and then he did it in my dreams. I couldn't shrug off the feeling. I didn't sleep for weeks. He told me to sleep with one eye open.
"When I started to go into other people's dreams, he appeared everywhere. I had to learn to block him out. If I got too relaxed in my dream, he would show. I was thankful when I started getting assignments, I was able to focus on that than on that man. That's why I told you that it's difficult to dream with you. I didn't want my past to interfere with your dreams. I understood what Cobb went through, but it's different when you lose your spouse compared to being attacked by your own father. That's why I've built up some subconscious to be a living hell. To block him out. they also make me realize that I'm dreaming; they're not exactly polite, like yours. I think I got a little too comfortable-"
"It was an accident," Ariadne said as she tapped him lightly on his thigh with her small foot. "We can fix that."
"No, you can't."
"We can. If Cobb can do it, so can you. I know you're a very sophisticated man, with high discipline and a strict attitude, but I can help. Because-" She set her coffee cup down on the coffee table, crawled up right next to him, sitting crisscrossed, and took his hands. They were so warm and small compared to his. She played with his fingers as they both remembered that this night was not about business. Arthur kept thinking that it was just the two of them. Eames wouldn't make a guest appearance, Cobb wouldn't call him and ask him to be his wingman-again. "As stupid as this sounds, I do want to share dreams with you. My imagination may be something spectacular to you-" She continued to play with his hands like they were toys. It got to the point where she cracked a few of them. "-But I can't build up something alone. I need someone who is opposite of me, you know."
His fingers wrapped around her hands and she looked up at him cautiously. His thumbs caressed her skin; her skin was gentle and smooth under his touch. He didn't know what to say to her. He didn't want to sound too sappy to sound like a complete idiot. She was smiling at him, accepting his silent thank you.
"I have two things for you," he said quietly. "Something new and something old." He dropped her hands, reached for the black box on the coffee and presented it to her on her lap. "First, something new."
"Arthur-" she began humbly.
"Open it," he insisted. With reluctant fingers, she gradually untied the white bow and set is aside on the table. When she opened it, she gaped and started to do her fragment of sentences just like she did when they spoke on the phone after months of silence. Inside was a tan, red, black and white plaid scarf that was authentic cashmere; one of the most popular patterns in Scotland, but he thought it would fit her. "I figured it would go with your red jacket."
"I-it would. Oh my God," she said dazed. She held it up, completely mesmerized by it. She put it up to her cheek and rubbed it against the scarf. "It's so soft!" She looked at him with the brightest smile on her face. "Thank you-"
"I now have to give you back something old," Arthur said. He pulled out her old scarf as she set the new one aside. Her face fell to a blank stare with an wide eyed look. He set the scarf in her hands where she numbly grabbed it. She rubbed the material in between her fingers, just like he had done many times before. She could feel what was in the scarf; she unfolded it to find her old totem. She held it in her cupped palms like it was a precious gem.
"You...you...Oh my God." She gazed up at him with charming smile. He could see water at the brim of her eyes. She set her old totem aside and threw her arms around his neck, giving him the hug that he truly wanted when he picked her up from school. But he understood why she didn't want to make a scene. This hug was only meant for the two of them, not for the public to view.
"It haunted me," he whispered against her hair. "I'm so sorry that it took me a long time." Ariadne pulled back to look at him, but she was sitting on her knees with her hands on his shoulders. "I have not been...myself lately."
"Shh," she said as she held his face in her hands. He pressed his cheek against her warm palm. "I'm just happy that you're here and that you even brought back what I had lost, after all of the trouble I made you go through. Thank you." Arthur sighed with relief and he closed his eyes. He reached up to take one of her hands and looked up at her. She had a starry eyed look through the fat tear drops that were still on the verge of falling. "You can sleep now."
"I can sleep now," he repeated in a whisper. He wiped her tears and she bit her lip to hide her grin. "I am very tired."
She dropped her hands and sat back on her knees, with her hand lingering on his arm.
"What?" he asked.
"When I went into Cobb's dreams, I met Mal there again. She asked me a question that has been stuck in my mind."
"Are you haunted by Mal?"
"Sort of. It doesn't get to the point where she appears in my dreams. But then I remember you telling me that she was 'lovely' in real life, so I knew what was coming out of Cobb's subconscious was more of a malicious form of her. A shade. But she had asked me if I knew what it felt like to be a lover. 'Half of a whole'." She tried to continue but she was at loss for words. She surveyed the living room as she collected her thoughts. She looked at everything but him. Her hand still laid upon his arm. It was almost like she was embarrassed to look at him, for she had admitted a secret. "I think I kinda understand what she meant."
"Think? Kinda? You're mind is unpredictable. And not to mention, confusing. Contradicting. It's almost like there are many paradoxes going on in there. It's probably not a good idea to get an idea coming from you; you're too complex."
"And you're too simple."
"No, I'm not. Every idea is complex."
"You're not making any sense."
"They're complex as an original idea. Nothing but-"
Arthur grinned at her and said, "But then there's you. You liked to twist ideas and ask a chain of questions. You answer questions with questions. Your ideas and answers go around on this infinite loop of confusion until it eventually breaks down and withers. Now are you going to let what Mal said go along the infinite staircase until it runs into one of your paradoxes where it will fall off?"
"For some who is very reserved, you sure have a lot on your mind."
"More than you can imagine," he said as he cast his tired eyes on her. Her eyes were the size of the moon and just as bright. He then glanced down at his lap and closed his eyes. He had a feeling that his father would come bursting through her front door and finish off what he started. She was the first girl he's been with who knew about his father. He never spoke of him, but many relationships failed because of his father. It was difficult to sleep at a girlfriend's house without becoming paranoid.
He felt Ariadne's hands cup his face and she said, "Hey." He opened his eyes. "It's okay. You're alright." She kissed his temple. Her simple encouragement and soothingness were reasons why he adored her. He put his forehead against hers as she said, "Breathe, Arthur." She gave him a playful smile.
"What's so funny?"
"You said I'm unpredictable? It's not exactly easy trying to figure out what you're thinking," she whispered as she ran her fingers through his hair, "what you're dreaming."
"I've been dreaming of you," he answered quickly. "That's what I've been dreaming of-"
Ariadne cut him off by kissing him lightly on the lips. Her kiss wasn't a trick or a way to disguise them like he had done to her on the second dream level. It was a blissful feeling to kiss her without running from anyone. She was holding back, afraid to kiss him for real. He fell in love with her subtle kisses; they were just a delicate as she was. She smiled against his lips; she had stolen back the kiss he had given her. It was nothing but a simple peck he instructed to give him in the dream, but it was one that tempted them to go further. But they were doing business and it wouldn't have fit the scene right. He grabbed a hold her flannel shirt and deepened the kiss. He sensed her shock as he pulled her into his lap; her smile had disappeared. He was wishing this wouldn't be a nightmare, and somehow Eames had forged himself as Ariadne. That would the worst thing to dream about. Ever. But as he felt her silky, wavy hair tickle his arm, he kissed her deeper. She straddled him, pinning him to the couch; her touch was like strikes of lightning.
She shuddered as his fingers traced down her spine while her hands moved across his slender shoulders and down his chest. He didn't understand how a simple kiss from a dream could drive him this far. He couldn't understand how a girl could make him so vulnerable. She broke from the kiss to catch her breath.
"Dear God," she panted. As she placed her hand over his heart, she smile slightly as she felt it thumping fast in his chest. She cupped one of his cheeks with her free hand and caressed it with her thumb. He tucked her hair behind her ears to see her face better. She studied his face especially his eyes. "You look so tired. I think it's better if we just went to sleep tonight," she said with a wink. She got off of his lap, but grabbed his hands and pulled him up. As she walked backwards, while hold his hand, she flipped off a light switch to turn off the lights in the living room. They entered her bedroom.
"You planned this all along, didn't you?" he asked her. She gave him a cheeky grin. She was in complete control of him tonight. It felt nice for once that he could follow reliable directions from someone else. She was picking great directions, and the idea of sleep was the best she's had. He loved kissing her, but he didn't want to jump the gun. He didn't want to ruin the moment.
"The couch would've killed your back. Trust me, I've fallen asleep countless times on that thing."
He made her stop at the foot of her bed and held her face in his hands. He realized how short she really was. He bent down and kissed her lips lightly. She had to stand on her tip toes to kiss him back. It was easier to kiss her when they sat, but he found this rather amusing. He crawled into her bed after her. But as he laid on his side, he felt something in his pocket. It was his cellphone. He pulled it out and put it on the nightstand next to him. He rolled over and found her curled up beneath the sheets, staring at him with a smile. He leaned over her and kissed her forehead.
"Thank you," he whispered against her skin. He kissed her cheek and buried his face in her collarbone as he hugged her tightly. She tangled her legs with his and kissed the top of his head. She started to rub his back and it naturally made him drowsy.
On the brink of a deep sleep, he heard her whisper, "I dream of you too."
Awesome, I got that out of the way. Now to drive back to college. :p Eww, in the car for two hours. At least it's a nice day in Florida!
I'm not exactly thrilled with this chapter. It happened better in my head, but it's difficult to put it on paper. The kiss part I had down. Everything else was play it by ear. Stupid, right? The second scar part, I had something completely different, but that sounded like a bunch of bullshit, so I changed it to his father. And I wanted Arthur to have a mischievous childhood :)
I've been listening to Ellie Goulding for a long time now, and when someone put Starry Eyed to this couple, I had to apply the song to it. Her music goes so well with them, especially when I'm writing. Love her!.
Next chapter should be the last one.
Review if you want. I already know the prediction of the reviews, "UPDATE SOON! LOVE IT!" (sigh).
DivineRose2392-the person who wants to get it on with Eames. Beware Fanfiction. Beware.